Industry Today Volume 22 Issue 1

t’s a great time to be a manufacturer. The economy is strong, technology continues to make gains in improving shop processes and supply chain management. Indeed, according to a survey recently conducted by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), 9 out of 10 manufacturers remain optimistic about future prospects. So what could possibly go wrong? Not having enough skilled workers to maintain this momentum. Indeed, the same survey found 7 out of 10 manufacturers concerned about the growing gap between jobs they need to fill and the available talent. Right now, about a half-million manufacturing jobs are left wanting. This skill gap is expected to rise to as many as 2.4 million unfilled jobs by 2028. Put another way, $2.5 trillion in manufacturing GDP could be at risk due to lack of sufficient workers. What’s causing this workforce crisis? There are a number of factors: • Negative impression of the manufacturing industry as dirty, repetitive and unrewarding work. • Shift in attention to computer-focused training over traditional manufacturing skills such as welding. • Retirement of baby boomers who make up large portion of the existing workforce. Possible solutions include: • Raise wages to better compete for talent and retain existing workers. • Offer retirees short-term project opportunities. • Adopt learning and development programs to train existing workers with both traditional hard skills as well as soft skills such as adaptability and creative thinking required with the introduction of new technologies. • Actively strive to attract a more diverse workforce. • Promoting innovative educational STEM-like programs to encourage students towards manufacturing careers. Avoiding a crisis depends on a collaborative effort among manufacturers, industry associations, government and schools. At the same time, manufacturers need to be first adopters of new technologies that incorporate AI and robotics to perform routine shop and back-office functions automatically and efficiently. But here’s the conundrum—even as industry incorporates more labor saving technologies, those very same technologies require skilled people to maintain them. The focus of this month’s issue is the workforce crisis in manufacturing. It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge we know our industry can address in ways that will provide new generations of workers with rewarding and challenging careers. We look forward to covering how individual manufacturers as well as the industry as a whole achieves this goal. I Industry Today is published bi-monthly by Positive Publications LLC, 65 Madison Avenue, Suite 540, Morristown, NJ 07960. Copyright © Industry Today 2019. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or for any purpose without prior written consent from the publisher and payment of the agreed fee. ISSN # 1521-8058 65 Madison Avenue, Suite 540, Morristown, NJ 07960 Ph. 973.218.0310 Publisher: Susan G. Poeton Project Director: Brian McMillan Project Managers: Marcos Elias Jonathan Listig Production: Melissa S. Burge Art Director: Seema Mazhar Contributing Designers: Jorge Leandro Rodrigues Profile Writers: Reuben Ford, Lorie Greenspan, Michael Sommers, David Soyka Publisher’s Letter INDUSTRY TODAY 1